There are an estimated 14 billion web pages on these interwebs of ours, and according to recent research you are only a few clicks away from accessing any of them. A Dr. Albert-László Barabási has conducted research that shows that any two distinct pages online are separated by only 19 clicks. That’s right, you can get from this page to 4Chan with nothing but a little repetitive stress to your index finger.
Dr. Barabási discovered that of the roughly 1 trillion web documents in existence—the aforementioned 14 billion-plus pages, along with every image, video or other file hosted on every single one of them—the vast majority are poorly connected, linked to perhaps just a few other pages or documents. But search engines, indexes and aggregators are the very highly connected pieces of the puzzle that can be used to move from area of the web to another. He likens these aggregators to Kevin Bacon – every page can be traced back in one way or another to an index or aggregator, thus connecting the whole system. Just as Kevin Bacon has worked with everyone in Hollywood, Google and other indexes have an entry for every webpage in existence.
Interestingly, he postulates that no matter how large the web grows, the same interconnectedness will rule. Barabási analyzed the network looking at a variety of levels—examining anywhere from a tiny slice to the full 1 trillion documents—and found that regardless of scale, the same 19-click-or-less rule applied. If this rate holds true we will continue to see a truly massive, yet cozy internet. Try it yourself – pick an unrelated website you might frequent and try to get there using only links. Here’s a freebie link below: